January 10, 2018
January 7, 2018
Poplar Skeleton Leaf
Big Leaf Maple - Acer macrophyllum
Sadly for us Kathryn is packing up and moving back to Ontario this year. She will be based just outside Ottawa where she's already found a botanical painting group to hand out with. We miss you already...
January 6, 2018
This watery jewel is one of Meriel's summer paintings. She has a thing for shells...
It's already been 5 years that Meriel has been painting with us and in that time I've had the privilege of watching her develop her skills through some difficult changes. She had a bicycle accident a few years ago that broke her leg and took the sight from one of her eyes. Despite the frustrations that came with that she kept on painting, approaching her limitations with the mind of an explorer. When she was able to adjust to her new vision she embraced what became an opening for a new, more diffuse way of painting, surprising us all with the results.
All that she learned early on is still present in her new paintings along with a blossoming freedom of expression. She still manages to capture an incredible amount of detail, now more impressionistic and flowing, and a wonderful luminosity. She's been focusing on developing her understanding of colour by limiting her palette and exploring new ways of seeing.
I'm always amazed at Meriel's ability to take whatever life hands her, use it to learn something new and then bring it forward to share it with all of us.
January 4, 2018
November 18, 2017
of this little plant... a great start.
Nadia took my drawing class at Emily Carr years ago and wanted to take the painting class but got too busy with work. Already a graphic artist and illustrator, Nadia paints and draws and takes beautiful photographs.
October 30, 2017
A little window into Meriel's studio. She's been making her paintings on small cards that she then sends off to friends... it keeps her away from getting too hung up on perfection and remaining present in the process of painting itself.
October 28, 2017
Magnolia Skeleton Leaf
Time made this leaf this way, months outside in the winter rain and snow and sun.
Pam made this painting over the summer months, slowly and carefully recording every fine line and detail.
Time and patience and persistence, care and careful observation, time and the slowing down of the speed of life...
October 27, 2017
October 26, 2017
Yes, it really was this bright.
Elizabeth had a whole plant with many flowers, each of which started bright and vibrant but faded to a butter yellow before falling away too quickly. It was a bit frustrating having to switch from bloom to bloom in one painting but she got there in the end.
August 21, 2017
May 17, 2017
Here is the original drawing, wonderfully rendered in great detail. Both works retain a great sense of roundness and dimension.
May 16, 2017
May 7, 2017
Cottonwood | Populus trichocarpa
Kathryn's most recent Poplar branch.
The details are worth a closer look.
Kathryn loves to paint branches... the woody parts with all their bumps and shapes... she calls it "dessert"... the reward after wrestling with the hard-to-control washes below the veining in the leaves. It's hard to see the variety of colours in the photograph, but this branch has blue and green and yellow and violet in it.
April 29, 2017
January 13, 2017
Turban Squash | Cucurbita maxima cultivar
What she lacks in culinary charms she more than makes up for in sheer good looks...
Described in the nineteenth century as "the most beautiful in color, and the most worthless
in quality, of all the varieties of squash;...coarse, watery and insipid."
Gregory, James J. H. (1893). Squashes: How to Grow Them
January 11, 2017
Douglas Fir | Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii
The distinctive cone of a Douglas Fir... Kathryn's most recent painting of an elegant branch stripped of its needles reveals the intricate texture of the wood and its "mouse tail" tipped cone suspended in space.
Kathryn tells me that the long curly tips of this unique cone, some of which have fallen off as it dried, are called mouse tails. Here's why...
Legend says that a long time ago there was a large fire in the forests of the west. Many animals were running around frantically trying to escape the flames. Tiny mice, not fast enough to outrun the fire, were trying to find shelter in various trees. The mice approached many trees asking for their help and were continuously denied. Finally they approached the large and mighty Douglas fir tree and asked if they could take shelter amongst its branches. The Douglas fir agreed to help the mice and allowed them to hide in its cones. The mice survived the fire, and to this day, if you examine a Douglas fir cone you can see the tails of the mice sticking out of the scales of a cone.
November 10, 2016
Eastern Cottonwood | Populus deltoides
Amazing and unusual autumn colours on this small branch of poplar leaves!
This detail shows some of the remarkable colour patterns and the fine brushwork in the stem.
These leaves were painted on Arches 300lb hot pressed paper. There was much less flocking this time, and the crisp edges were easier to achieve (see 2 posts below, Poplar Leaves # 1, for notes on paper comparison with Fabriano).
November 2, 2016
November 1, 2016
Cottonwood | Populus trichocarpa
A crisp branch of rusty poplar leaves...
...and a closer look inside the process.
This painting was done on Fabriano Artistico 300 lb Hot Pressed paper.
There have been quite a few botanical artists experiencing problems with this paper lately, including Kathryn. It has a tendency to bleed and make washes blotchy and hard to handle. Crisp edges have been hard to achieve, and the consistency of the paper is proving unreliable.
Some artists are returning to Arches, as you will see with Kathryn's next painting.
Others are trying out Moulin du Roy, sized with starch instead of the usual gelatin.
October 31, 2016
October 26, 2016
Oregon Grape | Mahonia aquifolium
This Oregon Grape branch was found in the woods in early spring near Kathryn Macdonald's home in Port Moody.
This is one of Kathryn's first botanical paintings... a very promising start in a new direction.
She came to the studio with a degree in studio art from Emily Carr, but with no previous watercolour experience. After an initial struggle with the new medium, Kathryn now says she thinks she's found an artistic home in botanical painting. I think so, too.
A closer look at the details.
March 19, 2016
February 27, 2016
January 11, 2016
December 22, 2015
A simple holly branch for the season, started back in summer... and after many preparatory paintings,
Mary produced this lovely luminous painting.
As rich and beautiful as the leaves and berries are,
the branch is also very sensitively observed and well-painted.
Peace on Earth...
December 10, 2015
Robin's Egg & Bramble Leaf
A broken robin's egg floating safely to earth in its dried bramble leaf boat...
Painted mostly in drybrush, with little strokes of colour, much like egg-tempera... crisp, clean and clear. This is a close-up view so you can see some of the details... the original composition is the same with a lot more white space around the subject.
October 28, 2015
Bird of Paradise
of 300lb hot pressed Arches paper.
These flowers don't last long so far from home,
and Francine went through a good dozen before she produced this arresting image.
October 25, 2015
A classic corsage composition...
Renee captured the colour and details beautifully in this charming painting.
Again, the painting was preceded by a detailed drawing.
Tonal studies like this one and Max Wu's below are very helpful to the painting process, when the subject is drooping or changing too quickly. They assist in getting the shadows right, and in figuring out the subtle shifts in colour that may be lost as the plant ages.
October 17, 2015
St. John's Wort - Dried Seed Capsule
Max's first finished watercolour! Months in the making, she started with a very carefully observed drawing... as you can see below.
Max made this detailed ink drawing about 6 times larger than life. The subject itself measures only about 1-1.5 inches in diameter and was drawn entirely while looking through a magnifying glass.
She has started work on a second drawing of the same plant, another seed capsule but of a different specimen at an earlier stage, before the opening of the central seed pod.